Friday, May 31, 2013

Parenting: Especially With ADHD and The World That Has Created It

I debated what to call this post.  "Dealing with ADHD" , "When You Want To Lock Your Kid Up Till They Get It", "When Homeschooling Looks Fabulous"...I could go on.

It's been quite a week.  Raising kids in this generation of whatever is really curious to me.  Let me just say I could not be happier that it's the last day of school.  At the same time, I see I have my work cut out for me with gaining some training ground with my kids this summer.

I have two kids that just have a struggle with social skills.  One slightly, and one severely.  Emma has the most amazing sense of humor.  She loves to laugh and she loves a good joke.  She sees things from a quirky odd angle that can be extremely funny and awkward at other times.  Add to that her lack of fear in saying what she thinks, and you have a recipe for both some amazing crack ups and moments of seat squirming.  This past week she thought it would be funny to prank her one of her friends with a scary text message.  I found out about this through a call from the principal of her school.  Thankfully, it did not take place on school grounds because she would have been cited I'm sure.  The text message read "The grim reaper is coming tonight for your and your sister"  She intended to follow it up with a "just's Emma" text but her phone was borrowed by her friend and she forgot.

Years and years ago, in a safe society, perhaps this would have been the joke it was meant to be.  The parents freaked out and called the principal.  I got asked if there was any hostile history between my daughter and this boy.  If you know Emma, you know she does not have a hostile bone in her body.  So, Rick and I spent a long time talking to her about the reality of the world she is growing up in where children who say these things may end up coming in and blowing other kids heads off.  Yep, it's hard to tell your kid that reality but they have to know it.  You know what, my conclusion is that this society really sucks.  A kid cannot be a kid anymore.  They can't play cops and robbers, they are limited on the playground from all kinds of normal things we use to play due to the threatening aspect of possible hostility.

Our challenge though was with the fact that at nearly 13, she did not get the social problem with it.  I told her that was a good sign really that she lived in a happy bubble.  She knows she would never inflict harm or truly wish to scare anyone but we adults DO live in a really, really scary world.  Every day we send our kids off, we don't know if they will come back!  So, as glad as I was for her happy bubble, I was myself shocked that she did not see how awful that text was.

Then, there is our son.  Like just about every other boy, Caed has been diagnosed with ADHD.  That in and of itself is another post.  We saw signs when he was young but I was in denial and did not want to believe it was happening.  You have one boy and you hope he never has it...and then he does.  Some people believe this is a made up concept, or they believe it's an excuse for bad behavior.  Don't judge unless you live with it.  I know it's a fact.  I do believe there are factors in our environment and society that create it or perhaps make it come to light in the way it does crippling our boys.  The fast pace of society, the snap to it go-go pace, and the "here open your brain and let me pour all this in and if you spill a drop or don't get it all you will be in trouble".  Oh, and add to that this:  "while I do this dumping into your brain, let me put you in an environment of incredible distraction and overwhelming stimuli that will make it near impossible for you to receive any of it".  I'm just so frustrated right now.

I know the steps with my son.  He goes from doing okay, to struggling, to starting to feel insecure as he looses track on all levels (papers disappearing, forgotten, forgotten lunches, etc).  He begins to space out which leads to more losing track.  He does not hear instruction no matter how slow or repetitive it's given to him.  He frustrates the teacher and feels the frustration.  Add that to the frustration he all ready feels with himself and the element of semi-bulling he get's from kids at play time (he has been made fun of for not like sports like other boys and playing "imagination games" instead.  the kids have told him he is too little to play act).  Also, the desire to be funny when it's never appropriate to be so.  You know what you get?  A mad kid.  His final straw is always anger.  I know as his mom that that means he is at the end of a long line of issues that were not resolved.  It also ends with an upset teacher.

In this past week he has just hit all the possible improprieties he can.  He was given a writing assignment to write down something important that happened to him.  All the other kids were writing about fun things and he wanted to write about how he fell and busted his head open when he was three.  Not to mention that is just about how many words he used in his supposed paragraph of writing.  I get it, there is no real way to sit down and deal with a kid like this in a classroom.  He gets to a frustrated point and is sent out to work with a teacher one on one, and is asked to change the theme of his story.  Instead he pics how his first dog he got had to go because it went potty in the house.  Great.  Just great.

But you know what!!!?  That is what came to his mind!  He is NOT good at creative writing.  One of the problems with the ADHD is getting any productivity out of a kid when dealing with their weak points or points of no interest at all.

Out of his frustration he has been rude and what I interpret to be aggressive with his teacher and I can tell she is frustrated I don't have him on medication.  We gave him meds for about three weeks (which was so difficult because he can't swallow a simple pill, which is the case with all my kids, so we have to open the pill and sprinkle the contents into jello but make sure he does not bite into any of it as it's time released) and he did not feel it was helping.  About that time I got this awful gut feeling that I did not want to medicate him for now.  Perhaps I panicked.  Perhaps I gave into fear.  I really don't know!  Sometimes all you can go on in parenting is your gut!  I made the decision to let him try out the rest of the year, get through the summer and see how the fall went after he matured a little more.

Of course it would be easier for the teacher if he is medicated.  She expressed that he has taken up more energy and time than any of her other kids with his issues and I'm sure she is right.  One of the reasons though is that all the other boys are on their meds.  At least as far as I know.  So, it makes me wonder why there is no plan for when a parent decided to wade through the symptoms?  His two main symptoms as I see them are failure to focus on many levels, and failure to know social propriety.  Those are huge issues in a classroom.

His issue yesterday (one among many) was that as he prepared a sticky note for a game where you go around and have classmates answer questions for the word on your back, he added the words "kick me" to the sticky note.  At first I thought this was going on his own back but I was understanding the game wrong.  If it had been him I actually could see the humor and thought perhaps he deserved any granted kicks.  However, it is going on another classmate so of course it's inappropriate.  He tries to be a goof at all the wrong times.  The love of a good joke and a good laugh seems to be strong in my children but knowing when and where and at what level is the problem.

So, if you think having your kids in public school will cure all their social won't.  I could not possibly have him in a more challenging environment for his issues.  Yet, we don't want him at home.  He has a whole world to learn to focus and succeed in and I we don't want him to miss out on the struggle to learn how to do this.  In the mean time, it's not easy and anyone who thinks ADHD is a joke should follow my son for a few days.  He is incredibly smart but tapping into the ability to use that seems to have so many stipulations.

As a parent you feel overwhelmed by how to discipline a child with these struggles.  You see the patterns, and you sometimes don't know there was an escalation taking place until both he and the teacher are at their wits end.  Then, you have to backtrack and unravel it all and find out what the bottom line problem is.  Some of it's simply defiant sinful child, some is how his brain does or does not work, and some of it is circumstantial or environmental.

Did I say yet I'm glad school is over?  Well I am. We have a meeting after school to try to talk some of this out with the teacher.  I'm hoping that helps.  I'm hoping we get through this.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mommy Melt Down

I've been thinking too much today.  Really.

I woke up this morning and as my alarm sounded I felt like I was on the moive "Groundhog Day".  Instead of living the same day over and over however, I felt as if I just kept living the some few seconds of morning wake up call over and over and over and over.  Like, every time I turn around, it's time to get up and somehow those few seconds make such a strong demand on my emotions that they seem more powerful than the rest of the day. They say "Get up!  Do it again!  Face it!"  I literally ask myself "how is this possible that it's morning and my alarm is going off again!!?   Did I even sleep?  What day is it?  Does it matter?  Do I live a perpetual motion of waking up!?"

Now, this blog post is not for the "together's".  It's not for people who just formulate, simplify and have it all lined up, planned out and payed forward.  It's also not for those who'd be tempted to respond to me "oh, just suck it up Alicia, we all have tough stuff, get over it."  You can leave.  I don't care for this moment what anyone thinks of the proceeding's just the view from here people.

I can't seem to find control on any level.  I can't seem to control what happens in life on a big scale, or a small one.  My schedule and driving plans (especially with one vehicle) are completely at the mercy of others.   I don't know who is coming or going at the house, who will be home, or over for dinner.  I never know if my husband will be off at a regular time or will be working over.  I don't even know what time dinner is anymore and I don't know what's for dinner.  Do you? Who's cooking?  Don't you like sandwiches? I do.

I can't control my focus.  I have to switch focus every few moments or have it demanded of me that I do even if I don't prefer it.  This also is true on a large and small scale.  On a large scale, I can't seem to focus on getting some exercise, keeping the clean clothes put away, Keeping the chore routine  working on building my business....on and on.  On a smaller one, I can't focus on what anyone is saying to me at the time.  After a plethora of "Mommy...." reports, I start to stare into their faces in a fog of non-comprehension only to hear the eventual "Are you listening to me?".  This is usually accompanied by another one asking me something in the background, or the dog needing to be told to get off the couch..."oh, I'm sorry, I AM listening (right!? I am right?! Someone please tell me that I am..), what was that?"  Only to get a frustrated exhaustion of air and "Ugh, never-mind !"  OMG...people....I'm trying!  

I can't control my energy level.  I'm working on that but all good plans of productivity lately seem to be sacrificed on the alter of "I've got to lay down!".  There are days I feel I could hit pause on life and sleep for 36 hours straight just to catch up on all levels both mental and physical.

I can't control my frustration with the fact that I can't seem to get things under control.  Yeah, that's a fun one.

So, anyhoo...I was so overwhelmed this morning the minute that alarm went off and I literally felt like I was living a skipping DVD play out of my life.  It just repeats a few seconds after the wake up call.  I walk out of my room each morning not knowing what the teen age emotional status will dictate and I'm almost always met with something that somehow is a crisis.  Usually the crisis of unknown origin hits before the coffee even reaches my lips.
I was also overwhelmed this morning at my age in all this.  Here I am, getting to the point in my life where things have been functioning long enough to start showing wear and tear both figuratively and literally.  Marriage after 16 years is great but also challenging.  It's like you finally realize, if we don't sort out some of this stuff between us, when will we?!  Patterns of "repeat" in both of us are becoming louder and louder in their obnoxious droning.  Our bodies are getting older, our responsibilities greater, and yet the demand on our time and mental health is coming from hormonal crisis "The world is ending" beings around us.  How is one supposed to assist the crazy people when one is crazy themselves?  How am I supposed to help a budding life form get things straight and know how to manage life when I'm more fuddled than ever?  I feel like the parent throwing the baby in the pool and saying "here!  swim!"  I don't know if you will, but if you start to go under we will just have to cross that bridge when we get to it.  That sounds so awful but it's so true!  You just can't cure all the life crisis for them!  You don't have the perfect solutions or advice sometimes, and you certainly don't have the stamina for the drama of it all.  You are hearing a little creature vent and moan and yell about their little life of challenges when you know inside you what REAL challenges are like.  Life, death, marriage, sacrifice, finances, getting food on the table....and then you feel guilt for not being more sensitive to their struggles.

Then hits the apathy.  I think it comes out of pure exhaustion.  The wear and tear shows like I said mentally, relationally and even practically.  Shoot, the house is falling apart too.  Things need to be fixed and you have no control over fixing them.  There is the battle of your own apathy and the frustration at the apathy of others.  Then you deal with frustration again with yourself for giving in to apathy (which get's you no where in the end) and the fact that you can't control the productivity or lack there of of others.  This starts to apply in their school and developing lives.  You can't control the stress procrastination brings them when they don't get their work done ahead of time, but you have to deal with the short temper they have toward the world for getting stressed out at the end.   You start to have less control on when they fall asleep at night, but you have to be wise and cheerful when the monster comes out of it's cage early in the morning.  You tire of saying "how can you live like this!?" when thier rooms repeatedly get trashed and only you seem to see it.  I really wish we had a home with a long hall or an upstairs and I could ignore this like most people can.  We live in a modular home where you can see into each room from the central part of the home and directly into one of them, as can all people who stop by your house....ugh.  Again, no control.  You begin to feel like a constant nag and drill Sargent, hear your own voice and hate the sound of it.

For me anyway, there seems to be no one to talk to.  I'm the only one I know with kids my age in school.  I am my own counselor with wonderful encouraging words to myself like "suck it up" and "just keep swimming, just keep swimming".  I don't know anyone else who has my view of what hills to die on with my kids either (at least who have kids this age).  I don't know anyone who has a high strung, highly stressed 15 year old female in their home who dominates all time and attention it would seem.  I start to think of talking to someone or finding a friend in the trenches and I realize that the circles of people I do know in this time of their lives (even if they get close) would want to try to give me solutions.  I know what the solutions are, I don't need measurements, I need someone to look at me and feel it, and are's tough.  It's like a reservoir that collects with no outlet.  There is no end, no relief, no quiet. It's really really tough.  I just want to see the face of someone else who knows that feeling, and maybe tell me a horror story of their own that will make me feel normal again.

Then I thought about the news Rick brought home last night about a man we have known for years being given two weeks to live because of cancer.  No control.  Turn a corner...bam.   I'm not saying I think it's good to have control, I'm not saying I don't recognize that God IS in control.  I'm saying that when you feel out of control on nearly ALL get's crazy.  I felt overwhelmed for this man.  I think he may even be younger than my dad was but I'm not sure....and then I remembered...

After all this swirling in my head this morning, driving my teen to High School, watching her get out and be met by her African American boyfriend (which I have no problem with but never imagined I'd journey through....), I drove off fighting tears, feeling helpless....I remembered the date....

May 17th.  Dad has been gone for 6 years.  Somehow things have been insane since he died.  My kids were young, I had control.  We home-schooled, I had control.  I was a stay at home mom, I had control.  Everyone when to bed early and we had time to ourselves, we had control.  For those of you who think like me that things will get easier as they get older, they don't.  The things just change and the biggest one is that you are less and less in control.  If I run into people somewhere down on the age scale or families void of females, I literally don't want to hear their wonderful plans of how they will structure out the teen years.  If they are through it, I may want to talk to them depending on their attitude about it.  If they are in it and their kids are sheltered, I'm so not interested.  Yes, my attitude stinks.  I have no energy for a good one on that level.  I'd be exhausted from listening to them and trying to respond kindly let alone absorb their great laid intentions for themselves, or hallelujahs for how well their kids turned out. Oh, and if you are not only raising a young brood but preserving your own food from your own garden or making your own clothing from organic fabric....please, just walk away before I have visions of hurting you.  I just want to put something other than a granola bar in my kids faces at 6:30 each morning. I just want to get to the grocery store enough to have an apple as an snack option. Please...shhhhh. Ugh..I digress completely.

Well, like I said on my, I'll just end with that:
This year, on the anniversary of my dads death, I've thought so much on how brave he was. Facing cancer taking his vitality slowly, knowing the end result was on its way and watching it come. Damn. But life is sometimes just as hard as death when the struggles and the efforts drag. I feel I'm at a time in life when I just have to hang in there and get through. I hope to be brave like him. Face whatever God brings and be okay when the joy bubbles are not always floating around my existence. When joy feels just out of reach. One can be completely assured of truth and groaning at the same time. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Knowing Gods promises does not equal a light heart or skipping step all the time. Some days it may even hurt to smile. Embrace it all. Be brave.